My Friend The Kamikaze
My Friend The Kamikaze
Just to review “kamikaze” means divine wind.
Upon receiving marching orders, multitudes of these young men sacrifice their lives for the Empire of Japan, an extremely tragic part of Japanese history to say the least.
Many many moons ago, my now dearly departed best friend Susumu, took all on a trip to his friend’s house in the breathtaking Miura Peninsula.
There, all were invited to stay at his friend’s ancestral home, where one came to known her father was a major tuna broker in this area.
Little did one realize just exactly how important this man was in his hometown, not only as a tuna broker, but as a wise, and very wealthy merchant.
One gave him the moniker Maguro Oyaji; Grandfather Tuna.It was just the other day when one called this dear old friend in the Miura Peninsula for a catch-up, where she confided to me her father was in the 特攻隊 (tokotai – kamikaze squad).
Very fortunate for him, and my cherished friend, the war ended before the chance to sacrifice his life for the Empire of Japan.
Thinking back upon this now, one felt he talked pragmatically how life is delicate and fleeting like his “success”.
built his business
living each day
like it was his last
as in the mindset
in his Yamato Spirit
waiting for his turn
in his rickety aircraft
only to sacrifice life
in the final battle
The last time I saw Grandfather Tuna was when one’s parents came to Japan.
Invited out for a New Year’s eve party at his home, he wave Dad over and wanted to talk to him about the war.
Fortunately, Dad was born too late (CE1935 S10) to have participated in these unthinkable and genocidal wars, so there was not much my father could offer about wartime from his Canadian perspective.
But, just like an older brother recounting heroic stories to a wide-eyed younger sibling they had such a wonderful bonding session as one sat interpreting between these these two extraordinarily different souls.
Eons ago, in a different Japan, one was often invited to people’s home, for a meal, when being a foreigner in Japan was still somewhat special.
Often there would be pictures of young men in uniform on the wall above the Buddhist altar, as this is where the Japanese honour their dead.
Never had one ever met someone whose lives had been touched by someone who died in war.
One needed to understand the kamikaze, and their final days as they waited for their turn to serve the Empire of Japan.
Digging around in the “suggestions for further reading” section of Professor R. Taggart Murphy’s brilliant work “Japan and the Shackles of the Past”, one came across “The Nobility of Failure: Tragic Heroes in the History of Japan”, by the masterful Ivan Morris.
There was the “Kamikaze Fighters” section, tragically sub-titled, “If Only We Might Fail…”
The ruinous final days of the sacrificial lamb’s to the Empire of Japan, were noted in their letters home, farewell poems, and accounts of these Sons of the Japanese Empire.
Like many of the tragic stories of Japanese heroes without a hope for victory, the tokotai carried out their mission with a toast to the Emperor on their way to their final destiny.
Indeed, an incredible insight into the mind of these young men, barely out of their teens, flying away from their families and their dreams to sacrifice their life for Japan.
If only we might fall
Like cherry blossoms in the spring
So pure and radiant
Haiku to soothe your last days on this mortal coil.
The Japanese have an exquisite word concerning the ephemeral human condition:
儚い (はかない – hakanai)
Hakanai is something to be felt within the depth one’s own soul, and to capture fleeting moments in time forever, is to begin to understand the true meaning life.